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To what extent was the relatively meagre amount of reform in Gladstone's Second Ministry a consequence of the many problems that beset the Liberal Ministers?

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To what extent was the relatively meagre amount of reform in Gladstone's Second Ministry a consequence of the many problems that beset the Liberal Ministers? The main reason for the limited reform in Gladstone's second Ministry can be put down to the problems within the Liberal party itself. The lack of unity and coherent theme was down to the clash of personalities within party members. They had no definite programme and tried to base their policies on, 'Liberalism' A constant battle emerged between the Whigs and Radicals of the party and Gladstone is said to have been the cement of his party. Gladstone was trying to maintain his party as well as trying to run the country. This was hard enough as it is but his interest and involvement with Ireland didn't help matters and in the end was what led to him retiring from politics In theory the Liberal party was what England needed. A party that was out there to get rid of unfair privilege as that was the, 'enemy.' To some extent it did get rid of unfairness but the party was flawed with fundamental problems which limited their progress especially in the second ministry. ...read more.


The Redistribution Bill 1885 affected the Whigs in a negative way,. The redistribution and loss of candidates meant that where there was normally a Whig and Radical representative now there was only a Radical. They hated Chamberlain who was regarded as disloyal. He usually criticised and attacked hi conservative colleagues in articles. Even in the cabinet he went beyond his responsibilities at the Board Of Trade. He denounced the House Of Lords over the Reform Bill and even attacked his own party members. He likened Lord Hartington to 'Rip Van Winkle', the fictional character who went to sleep for 20 years. Chamberlain even published his own official programme and left the party after becoming leader of the Liberal Unionists. This constant battle between party members not only made the party weak but also allowed opposition to attack. The incident with Charles Bradlaugh also caused discontent as he being an atheist didn't want to swear an oath of allegiance. This cause outrage and there was a constant campaign to allow atheist to become MP's. Gladstone being a morally conscious person was left in a difficult position. He was being attacked from nearly all directions and his party was crumbling. ...read more.


The radicals wanted remedial measures and were also against repression. However neither of them were as radical as to want Home Rule and Gladstone saw no other way him turning to Home Rule was what united these two distinct groups to turn against his leadership. Therefore in conclusion it can be seen that both the Liberal party and its ministers was beset with fundamental problems which inevitably had an effect on legislation. The party couldn't unite on one front because of the clash between party members. The party in essence was made up of two differing schools of thought and this caused hostility within the party. If a party didn't agree on anything, passing legislation on it was somewhat impossible. The Whig element of his party contradicted his belief of liberty and justice, and also went against the Radicals in the group and Gladstone had the task of trying to maintain these personalities and unite them on one aim . However Gladstone himself began to concern himself with Ireland and his second, third and fourth ministries were devoted to that. With no one to act as the,' cement' of the party and their leader trying to change something the majority of the country was against ...read more.

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